Williams Grand Prix Engineering, the parent company of the F1 team, has sold its Williams Hybrid Power unit to UK engineering group GKN for £8 million (RM43.65 million). News reports indicate that the unit will be renamed as GKN Power Hybrid.
In 2010, Williams bought the startup hybrid unit for £1.5 million after the company helped develop a flywheel which recouped energy from braking, the design of which was used on Williams’ 2009 season race cars. The tech has found its way on to the energy storage system in Audi’s Le Mans-winning racer, and trials have begun for its use on mass transport in the UK.
In the case of public transport, the flywheel is planned for use in buses, with the aim being to improve fuel economy by harvesting the energy normally lost as heat during braking and converting it into additional power. Williams said that the flywheels could improve the fuel economy of a double-decker bus by 30%.
GKN has other units, including GKN Driveline, which in 2007 co-developed with ZF a new rear axle for rear-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles. Called the Vector-Drive rear axle, the first applications were with BMW vehicles.
The Vector-Drive uses two torque vectoring hardware units per axle to provide the requested vectoring torque by a superimposition planetary gear set, which is electronically-controlled at the ZF system level by an electric motor actuated clutch. The mechanical LSD in the Renault Megane RS is also from GKN Driveline.